At the weekend we witnessed something we’ve rarely seen under the floodlights throughout recent years. United have tended to try and get the ball out wide and deliver crosses through fast-paced wingers, but in recent years football in this country has changed and United simply got stuck in the past.
Players like Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have struggled to make an impact on the whole this season, and personally I don’t feel that its just a coincidence. Against West Ham, David Moyes had to change his style of play due to an injury to Robin van Persie, an injury which I think could have been a blessing in disguise in terms of this club going forward.
Juan Mata started in his favoured #10 slot, and Shinji Kagawa also played in this game. Both players don’t have a lot of pace, and rarely do you see the duo making a dash down the line looking to whip the ball in – but what they do have is a football brain. They pass, they move, they create space for other players to run into, they also aren’t afraid to run ahead of the striker; Something which has been missing of late. Their impact on the pitch at the weekend was clear for all to see, and the football on show was so much more entertaining in comparison to the dross we’ve been treated to for most of the season.
Onto the derby then, and for the first time in years it feels like we really have nothing to lose going into a game between the two sides, and the pressure is all on City this time. They’re in the hunt for the title, whereas we’re languishing in mid-table with nothing but pride at stake.
Both sides will look to attack in this one, because both defences are the weak points that’ll probably be exploited. United took on West Ham with Michael Carrick at the heart of defence and although he played very well, West Ham aren’t anywhere close to the level of Manchester City.
City on the other hand have an injury to talented youngster Matija Nastasic, meaning that one of Martin Demichelis or Joleon Lescott look set to partner Vincent Kompany at the back. Both of these players struggle with pace and movement, so if the likes of Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa can keep the ball moving, it could really play into our hands.
I feel that we have a great chance to take the game to Manchester City tomorrow, a dynamic front four including the aforementioned Mata and Kagawa, plus Rooney and Welbeck could really stretch the Manchester City defence. My only worry is that we probably won’t be able to keep them out at the other end…
Lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet. We have a long way to go if we want to be challenging for the title again, but fans will certainly be happier if United are playing exciting football to watch. Personally I feel that Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata should be a part of this ‘new look’ United because both have the eye for a killer pass that can unlock defences who just want to sit back.